NCOC Featured Discussion

The Role of Citizen Does Not End With Your Vote

November 7, 2012

The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote.
-- President Obama
Late last night President Obama took the stage in Chicago. To great applause he delivered his victory speech and with it an important message: it may be November 7th, but our civic duty is not over.

Early data shows high voter turnout.
Youth vote appears to be higher than before with at least 49% of the under-30 population voting. The Twitter hashtag #StayInLine was trending last night as friends and campaigns urged citizens to stay in line to vote hours after polls were slated to close.

While we celebrate these successes in voter-turnout and reflect on Election Day 2012, we urge you to go beyond the vote. America is a global role model for democracy. We must set a high standard for
civic engagement. Now is the time to get involved in your community: volunteer, join a group, or help neighbor.

Both President Obama and presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney call on citizens to actively engage in our democracy. The President encouraged Americans to think beyond the vote and Romney called on citizens “to rise to the occasion.”

Here are some excerpts from President Obama’s victory speech:

I want to thank every American who participated in this election, whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time. By the way, we have to fix that. Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone, whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.

It’s not small, it’s big. It’s important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated.

We have our own opinions. Each of us have deeply held beliefs and when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions and stirs up controversy. That won’t change after tonight – and it shouldn’t.

These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives, right now, just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter – the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.

But that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.

This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.
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